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Vietnam Today

Workshop held to promote gender equality in Labour Code revision

Released at: 14:42, 20/10/2018

Workshop held to promote gender equality in Labour Code revision

Photo: Embassy of Australia

Input from consultation workshop expected to inform MoLISA's revised Labor Code Project.

by Le Diem

A consultation workshop has been held on promoting gender equality in the revision of the Labor Code, on the occasion of Vietnamese Women’s Day on October 20.

The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), with support from Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Vietnam.

The largest consultation on provisions to ensure and promote gender equality in Labor Code reform, the workshop brought together some 200 female and male representatives from the drafting committee, policy makers, and practitioners, including the National Assembly, the government, worker and employer organizations, diplomatic agencies, international organizations, and the media, among others.

Creating an enabling environment for women in the workplace is a priority for the Vietnamese Government, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha said in her opening address. Based on empirical studies and the experience of other countries, it is time to consider a shift in approach in developing the Labor Code’s provisions from “protecting women” to “promoting gender equality” for both male and female employees. Separate provisions singling out female employees in the Labor Code could include: i) provisions on measures to promote gender equality in practice (as temporary special measures); and ii) maternity and paternity protection provisions for both female and male employees. “We see Labor Code reform as an opportunity to make progress in this area,” she said.

“Gender inequality should no longer be seen as a purely social issue, but as an economic one that presents a key challenge to attaining inclusive and sustainable growth,” Australian Ambassador to Vietnam H.E Craig Chittick said at the opening of the workshop.

The Vietnamese Government highlighted the benefits of gender equality at work and its efforts to address women and men’s equal opportunities and treatment in the Labor Code.

Vietnam’s 2012 Code is being amended to pave the way for its economy to become more competitive and deliver decent work and growth for the government’s vision of the nation in the 21st century.

The revision comes amid Vietnam’s preparations to enter into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which will expand its access to the EU and CPTPP countries markets through 99 per cent cuts in import taxes within ten years.

Revising the Labor Code is a specific task for Vietnam to implement international treaty commitments in the field of workplace gender equality, making it a likely leading nation in the region in respecting fundamental rights at work that underlie economic productivity and competitive advancement.

The efforts, led by MoLISA and with support from the Australian Government and UN Women, focus on shifting the approach and improving regulations in four areas of the existing Labor Code, including narrowing down and moving towards eliminating the retirement age gap between male and female employees through gradual adjustments; improving provisions on preventing and addressing sexual harassment; ensuring and promoting equality and non-discrimination based on gender in performing reproductive and childcare functions; and improving social responsibility mechanisms between the State and employers in organizing day care facilities and kindergartens and in supporting employees with sending their children to day care facilities and kindergartens.

Perfecting gender equality provisions in the Labor Code will also allow Vietnam to better ensure the consistency of its legal system. Its 2013 Constitution stipulates that: “Male and female citizens have equal rights in all fields. Policies to guarantee the right to and opportunities for gender equality shall be adopted by the State.” The Gender Equality Law promulgated in 2006 plays an important role in ensuring and promoting gender equality in all fields.

Input from this consultation workshop is expected to inform MoLISA’s revised Labor Code Project, which is scheduled to be brought before the National Assembly for comment in May 2019 and for adoption in October 2019.

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